It’s mid June and just brushing 70 degrees tonight. I sit outside on my veranda in a sun dress and flip flops taking in the sights and smells. To say Seattle is beautiful this time of year is a gross understatement. All of nature is robed in green with splashes here and there of all the colors of the rainbow. At least all the ones our eyes can see. It’s too bad Professor McGonagall isn’t here to transfigure me into a hummingbird so I could see the world as a much more colorful and brighter place!
It’s been fairly gloomy here in the Pacific Northwest and not just from the months of gray and cold we’ve recently shed. The world is not what it used to be. 2020 has been a record year for unemployment, people forced into working essential and risky jobs, and the rest of us working from home and refusing to wear pants. Masks are slowly starting to become fashion statements and travel further than one’s own neighborhood is frowned upon.
All this has resulted in we Americans having a lot of extra time on our hands. People have embraced exercise and developed what seems to be a new found enthusiasm for anything outdoors. No one wants to stay home. Maybe a few introverts, but I would say the majority of us want to be out and about. Many have even found a new passion for gardening!
It certainly feels like we’ve been grounded and I’m definitely guilty of sneaking out. I’m not the only one either. The nurseries and garden centers have been packed! The masked vs unmasked population varies and seems to favor one or the other depending on the proximity to a big city. In my experience, the majority of the unmasked are people in the more at-risk older age group who don’t seem to give AF. To each their own.
I am a religious mask wearer in any business establishment. I’ve also been wearing my glasses more because I tend to rub my eyes a lot when wearing my contacts. This is a problem because my breath inside my masks fogs my glasses. I take my glasses off to wipe them clean of condensation, but they catch on my mask, pull it half off and then a chunk of my hair never fails to get tangled in both the glasses and mask. It’s just not dignified.
I wear it anyway though unless I’m out in open air. When I run outside, I pull my mask up when I pass by people. When the coast is clear, I lower it so I don’t pass out. It’s actually good training for my lungs I think. I guess time will tell.
I don’t include nurseries as open air because of all the people loitering over the foilage (myself included). I only have a few new plants from my nursery trips. My nursery trips have been well beyond my neighborhood too. I fancy myself as a rule bender, but not breaker. I also have plants that I acquired through other channels. More creative channels I think.
When things first shut down, I became a hermit. I used a cleaning wipe to open all doors around my condo building. That was short lived due to the short supply of cleaning wipes even after using scissors to cut the damn things into quarters. I replaced that with paper towels and then washed, washed, washed. I had groceries delivered through Instacart and after a debacle of whether or not I paid for the flowers that were left with my groceries (I did not) and after feeling bad that I was putting someone else at risk for picking up my groceries (and if I’m really honest with myself…it was expensive too), I decided to mask and glove up and start going to the store myself. Like a big girl. But that was it. Essentials only!
And then my friend Jennifer offered to pick me up some cherry tomato plants at Lowe’s or Home Depot. She was going anyway and this was before I ventured out to go to a nursery myself. Yes! Please. And thank you!! So she dropped off a red and yellow cherry tomato plant, which I bartered with a few packages of top ramen, some chips, a few items I can no longer remember, and a single fruit by the foot.
I never thought I’d see the barter system come to life in my lifetime, but there it was. And it was beautiful. I also received some plant charity from my friends Kyle and Clancy. Kyle had started some sugar snap peas from some seeds he obtained from the previous year gardening. That’s some level up shit right there. He nurtured those little plant babies and then they delivered them straight to my community garden for a no contact drop off/pick up. I planted them immediately.
The time in between planting those tomatoes and snap peas and today has been only a couple months, but the rate of change and growth in them has been substantial. And the world has seemed to keep up with that pace.
Every day something new. The tomato stalks grow taller. Only old people are dying of COVID. The peas snake around anything they can touch. Anyone of any age can die of it. New leaves emerge. You could be asymptomatic. A flower bud. Don’t touch any surfaces. The flower opens. Surfaces are not as contagious as previously thought. The days grow longer and solstice nears. The light shines on social injustices. Flowers emerge. Cities burn as protests are infiltrated and turn violent. The bees return to the garden and the “murder hornets” are forgotten. Curfews. WTF? Curfews? The peas reach ever towards the sky. CHANGE. It’s everywhere.
I visited the snap peas and cherry tomatoes in my garden patch just a few short hours ago. I love this community garden. Many plots. All are different. Different sizes and different shapes and distanced enough not to require a mask. The plants that grow in the garden vary from plot to plot. It is a sanctuary. The Gardners say hello. There are very few rules (no planting mint or trees and do your own weeding), and everyone seems to get along. One man built a whole plot to grow produce for the food bank. I am not as selfless. Just blueberries to snack on and peas and tomatoes, though I did agree to let a man, who gave me gardening advice, pick a few of my cherry tomatoes if he was passing by.
I’m still here on my veranda. The sun sinks lower, but my solar lights stuck in my planters still have time before their show. The honeysuckle is starting to emit its fragrance to tempt the nighttime fliers. It’s my favorite time of night. If I lived on the other side of the building that could see the Puget Sound, my view would be the waters that glow turquoise at dusk. It’s the perfect time to pause and take things in.
There is so much going on in the world right now. So much shit. My one hope is that, like in our garden, the compost will turn into something beautiful and nurturing. Something for everyone to enjoy and take part in.